Rep. Michele Bachmann’s new line of attack against GOP frontrunner Gov. Rick Perry -- launched Monday night at the CNN/Tea Party Express debate and continued on Tuesday’s morning talk shows -- pins the Texas governor’s ties to a pharmaceutical giant as the reason for his controversial decision to require the HPV vaccine for Texas schoolgirls.
“The drug company gave thousands of dollars in political donations to the governor, and this is just flat-out wrong,” Bachmann asserted in Monday night’s debate.
In response, Perry said Merck, the company in question, had given him a $5,000 contribution. “And if you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended,” he added.
In fact, Merck PAC — the company’s Washington, D.C.-based political action committee — has given Perry $28,500 since 2001, according to Texas Ethics Commission filings.
The bulk of that money came before 2007, when the governor signed an executive order mandating all sixth-grade girls in the state to receive the Gardasil vaccine against HPV. The move rankled social conservatives and the mandate was ultimately overturned by the Legislature.
Of course, in Texas -- the land of lax campaign contribution limits -- Merck’s contribution total falls far short of Perry’s top donors -- more than 200 have given six-figures to the governor’s campaign since 2001, according to watchdog group Texans for Public Justice.
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